_____________________________ ST. NORBERT CHURCH           RATES ________________________         EBOOK


GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF PREVIEW – Trio of Area Teams to Face Ranked Teams in Opening Round While Gahr is Third in Div. 5AA

February 8 2023

By Loren Kopff • @LorenKopff on Twitter

By Loren Kopff@LorenKopff on TwitterIt will be a tough road through the playoffs a pair of 605 League teams, which will see ranked teams in the opening round of the CIF-Southern Section playoffs, played on Feb. 9 while two teams from the Mid-Cities League advanced with Gahr High ranked third in Division 5AA. The second round of the playoffs will be on Saturday with the quarterfinals slated for Wednesday and the semifinals for Feb. 18.

Division 2AA

Cerritos High (12-15) @ #5 San Clemente High (21-7)-Through all the obstacles that Cerritos had to face this season, i.e., injuries, illnesses, tough non-league schedule, the Dons managed to finish in third place in the 605 League. But for the team to advance to the championship game like it did a season ago, it will be tougher. Cerritos faces a Tritons squad that won a Dec. 14 game 58-20, the second fewest points the Dons have scored this season. It was the beginning of six-game losing streak that sent the team from four games above .500 to two games under. The Dons wouldn’t get back to .500 the rest of the way.

“It didn’t go our way during that game,” said Cerritos head coach Marcus Chinen. “Hopefully we’ll be able to give them a good game this time. We have pretty much almost everyone back to good health.”

Senior Kaitlyn Sugita scored 11 points in that meeting and has been one of three consistent starters this season, along with juniors Mailee Dizon and Mia Rivera. Freshman Cameron Lacorte has also started a lot of games with the fifth starter being shared by senior Francine Carrillo and sophomore Ambar Multani.

Common opponents between Cerritos and San Clemente are Troy High, which beat Cerritos but lost to the Tritons, Canyon High, which lost to the two schools, Santa Margarita High, which defeated the Dons but lost to the South Orange County school and Peninsula High, which was Cerritos’ season-opener.

Chinen said that San Clemente is a bigger team than his and they’re ‘pretty fast on the run’, which means the Dons have to find a way to slow the Tritons. For the Dons to win, he added that his team needs to shoot and rebound well.

Should Cerritos come away with the upset, it will face the winner of the La Serna High-#12 Ventura game.

Division 3AA

#14 Walnut High (13-10) @ Whitney High (16-12)-The co-champions of the 605 League get to host the 14th-ranked team in the division, which was a streaky 4-3 over the past seven games. Meanwhile, the Wildcats have been a solid team since coming back from Idaho, where they lost all three games played in the Timber-Lion Tournament. Whitney is 8-2 in its past 10 games and is a team divided by a solid starting five, and an experienced bench of five players.

“First off, let’s just say I’m happy we have a home game instead of having to travel,” said Whitney head coach Myron Jacobs. “I don’t know too much about Walnut High School, but I already have film and we’re going to do our best to prepare for them and get ready for Thursday.”

Last season, Whitney finished in a three-way tie for first place and had seven players whereas this season, the Wildcats had to knock off Pioneer High on the last game of the regular season just to tie the Titans for the top spot in league. 

Walnut, which averages nearly 52 points a game, has one player scoring in double figures-Jolleen Olia (18.1 ppg.). In contrast, junior Kylie Wang, sophomore Haylie Wang and freshman Mady Macaraeg have been the three solid scorers for the Wildcats and have combined to reach double figures over 55 times. 

“I think this year is a little more special because not only are we playing for the seniors, I have a really good freshman that works out with my core that I’ve had for the last two to three years,” said Jacobs.

Both teams lost to Brea Olinda High, which is the only common opponent and the winner of this game will face the winner of the El Dorado High-#3 San Bernardino High contest on Saturday.

“The first thing we wanted to do was not lay on the side [of the bracket] as Los Osos,” said Jacobs. “We got that. I don’t look at records anymore; I just look at straight action of how other teams play. That’s the thing when you go into playoffs. Your mindset has to always think, hey, this team is better than us, so we have to work hard. We have to use the practice time to get us to where our kids understand, hey, you have to work hard in order to win the game.”

Division 3A 

Norwalk High (16-11) @ #11 Anaheim High (22-6)-The Lancers will be put to the test with a road game against a ranked team. Norwalk wound up in third place in the Mid-Cities League but has gone through the season with ups and downs. Norwalk won six of its first seven games, then went 4-7 in the middle portion of the schedule before winning six of its last nine contests.

The heart and soul of the team is junior Keilani Ganancial, who reached at least 20 points in 14 games. Four other seniors-Julieta Castellanos, Areli Gonzalez, Rizzelle Pasqual and Amanda Rangel round out an experienced starting lineup.

The Colonists are on fire, having won 11 of their last 12 games after beginning the season splitting their first four games. Common opponents were Santa Fe High, which gave Norwalk its first loss of the season but lost to Anaheim, Montebello High, which lost to the two, Whittier High, which split with the two, Bellflower High, which lost three games against the two, and Savanna High and Western High, league opponents of Anaheim which lost four times to the Colonists and twice to Norwalk.

If Norwalk can upset Anaheim, it will face the victor of the #6 Hesperia High-Lancaster High matchup on Saturday.

Division 5AA

Channel Islands High (10-9) @ #3 Gahr High (21-6)-If there is one area team to go to the championship game, it would be Gahr, which is returning to the playoffs for the first time since 2017. It was one season ago when the Gladiators finished 5-23. Now, the program has its best record since 2012-2013 when it went 22-10. In addition, the Gladiators shared the Mid-Cities League title with Dominguez High, making it the first time since 1999 that the program has won a league crown. 

The Gladiators have been led by seniors Kameryn Mitchell, Alyssa Miyake and Lauren Teramoto , plus sophomores Jody Colbert and Christine Ho and are a high-scoring unit. Gahr has scored 50 points or more in 13 of its past 15 games.

Channel Islands finished in third place in the Citrus Coast League and because of the distance between the Gladiators and Raiders, there were no common opponents. Barring a major upset, Gahr is slated to play either Hesperia Christian High or #16 St. Joseph High in the second round.